Washingtonpost.com's Dan Froomkin flags two examples of one of my least favorite types of presidential journalism:
Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey write for Newsweek: "President Bush looked pained. His hair was grayer than usual, his skin more washed out. The lines under his eyes were deeply scored. If that's what victory looks like, you wouldn't want to see defeat."
New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley writes: "The president, whose political identity is founded on an image of unwavering cowboy resolve, looked uncertain and chastened behind the lectern, at one moment staring downward and gnawing his lip in a rare tableau of weary anxiety."
The way Bush looks tell us very little. Every president looks exhausted by their sixth year in office. Moreover, interpreting how someone looks is completely subjective. The typical pattern is to use some visual cue to reinforce whatever narrative is dominant at the time. In this case, Bush's ratings are down and his party is in trouble, so he's portrayed as looking tired and chastened. When he's winning, he's described as confident, energetic, etc. In general, it's a bankrupt form of analysis.